Regular practice will make you more mindful at work
Recently, a female client who's being bullied at work came to see me. Another client is being squeezed out of his job because of budget cuts. A third individual can no longer stay in his position due to injury, and his boss is refusing to accommodate his needs. Other than workplace dissatisfaction, do you want to know what links them all? Each one, in different organisations, has been offered mindfulness courses.
Now, I think there's a lot to be said for being more mindful at work. The truth is that when a person practises mindfulness daily there is a permanent change in brain structure. For example, one study shows that lifelong meditators have more grey matter in their heads. Another study found enhanced connectivity between brain regions. All these changes result in meditators subjectively reporting that they feel happier, experience more empathy, and benefit from a greater ability to concentrate than do non-meditators.
This architectural re-wiring of the human brain is not something that a person can just turn on and off at will, any more than a weightlifter can make their muscles disappear when they leave the gym. Regular practice will make you more mindful at work, and you will experience the benefits. This is a good thing.
However, the current trend of using mindfulness as a form of stress relief is actually very distressing. It's a misapplication of the ancient practice, it's condescending, and it gives the whole field a bad name. It dumps all the responsibility for workplace harmony on the employee and implies that the problem is not legitimate and serious, but is instead 'all in your head'. It turns mindfulness into a trivial fad, akin to dress-down Fridays.
Practising mindfulness does not mean that you foster a spirit of calm while being walked all over. On the contrary, a mindful acceptance of what you are experiencing at any moment in time often opens up an opportunity to admit to yourself that you are raging. Mindfulness should not be thought of, accepted or offered, as a convenient way of sweeping mismanagement under the office carpet.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/ Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl